Thursday, August 23, 2012

Gen Con Day 2: Everybody Loves Owls

Friday I actually managed to drag my lazy ass out of bed at 6 a.m. and hit the treadmill in the hotel's exercise room. It's a really nice place; the treadmills even have little TVs with cable on them. There were some guys already working out, which was kind of annoying as I like to work out in privacy (since I probably look like a moron doing it) but was also good, because when there are other people there you don't want to look like a pussy so you try harder.

Then I hauled myself upstairs and put on Friday's costume: Athena, complete with laurel leaves and owl. The owl was a burrowing owl puppet by Folkmanis (burrowing owls = not native to Greece, but he look liked an Athenian owl). I just tucked his legs into the hand-pocket and safety-pinned him on. He stayed up surprisingly well. I discovered two things during the 14 or so hours I wore this costume:

  1. If you want people to like you, just pin a stuffed animal to your shoulder

Seriously, walking along, people kept glancing at me and smiling. I thought, “Wow, people really like Greek mythology!” Then I realized they weren't smiling at me- they were smiling at the owl! Every time I stopped for a picture the photographer commented on my owl. Kids loved it. I heard one girl say, “She has an owl! I want an owl!!” (sorry parents, I didn't mean to). So if you're kind of socially awkward and want to make friends, pin a stuffed animal to your shoulder and you will instantly be Mr/Ms Popular.

  1. Corsets, worn for 14 Hours, Hurt Like Hell and Leave Marks for Days

Although my friend Kim, who is well acquainted with corsets, told me that quality ones with steels stays don't do this. Guess I better shell out next year for a real one. Also, I've complained about women wearing corsets before, so I will only say this once: back panels, ladies. They do exist. And also if your breasts are hitched up so high that if you look down you would suffocate, you might want to reconsider how tight you have that thing cinched.

My first panel was 9 a.m., Mano-a-Mano. This could have been about gay sex in fiction, or fighting, and it turned out to be about fighting. Ah, well. It was very entertaining and pretty helpful for someone like me who sucks at writing action. Next I had a panel about Alexander the Great (speaking of gay sex...). This panel was a bit of an ordeal to find. I didn't know there were actually two Marriott hotels connected to the ICC (TWO? Overkill a bit?) and so ended up in the wrong one. I had to cross a parking garage to get to the correct one, and then ask for help finding the room. I know the most popular events will be held in the highest-traffic areas (and I am grateful the writing panels are!) but I actually skipped a couple panels later in the weekend because I didn't want to have to track them down in one of the hotels. I don't blame Gen Con; I need to be more proactive about finding where things are, I suppose.

I checked on the Husband in the gaming hall (he was playing some sort of massive 100 hour Battletech game) and wandered the Dealers' Room, picking up two books from Chaosium (weird tales of Arthur Machen volumes 1 and 2; I am grateful to Chaosium for keeping a lot of awesome stuff in print, but I only pick up their stuff at cons because I have heard stories about the difficulties of actually receiving the things you order from them).

I hit my next panel, the Structure of Scenes, around 1. And here is something about the Writers' Symposium that I noticed this year: a lot of the panels I attended had the same panelists as last year, and several were on the same subjects I saw last year. I really like the authors, so no quarrel there, but I didn't feel this year like I was learning much that I didn't learn last year. Not all the panels were the same, of course, and I enjoyed them regardless, but much of the advice given is aimed at new authors. I certainly don't believe I can't learn anything new; as a writer I am always learning and improving. But 'new author advice' is something I've already heard quite a bit. Next year I would like to see more panels aimed at specific genres: horror writing, taboos in various genres, the use of folklore in fantasy etc. But that's a suggestion to send to the Symposium director...

I grabbed lunch at Subway, knowing I wouldn't have another chance to eat that day, ate in on a bench next to a man who kept checking his phone (and didn't smile at my owl. Strange). Also ran into a Deadpool in the dealers' room. Luckily he didn't talk nearly as much as the real one.

I spent more time people-watching, and skipped a panel called Ghost Ships (a shame as I love ghost ships!) because it was in a hotel I had never even heard of before- later I found it was the Crowne Plaza, about a block from the ICC. I will know for next year!

My last Friday panel was another Read & Critique. It was run by the same crew who ran my Friday R&C last year- all friends (two are even married) who have no problem squabbling over their opinions. Luckily, they are always entertaining. I ended up being the last to read, was not quite ripped apart, and got some very good publishing advice from the group, which I really appreciated as at this point it was nearly 10:30 p.m. and we were all running on fumes.

I met up with the Husband, realized I was hungry, realized further that nothing was open (Husband had eaten out with some friends and regaled me with stories of a motorcycle rally that was happening on the same weekend, including ladies serving at a bar in their undies to a crowd of bikers- sorry I missed that). I settled for a hot chocolate from the Starbucks in the JW Marriott. We also checked the progress of Cardhalla.

I watched part of a Law & Order episode (told you- ALWAYS ON) and crashed my aching, corset-marked body into the comfy Courtyard bed.

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